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Podophyllum is an herbaceous plant indigenous to the eastern United States as well as parts of southeastern Canada. It has many common names such as ground lemon, American mandrake, and mayapple. In the wild it grows in colonies that originate from a single root. The entire plant is poisonous but its root and stem are nonetheless used as primary ingredients for the treatment of many maladies. Podophyllum has been used for a wide variety of ailments including syphilis, jaundice, some cancer types, select liver issues, fever, to kill parasitic intestinal worms, as a means to empty the bowels, for snakebites, hearing loss and more. None of the aforementioned uses are advisable unless you are under the care of your physician and he or she has decided that podophyllum is needed for your treatment. Podophyllum is only to be used in a clinical or medical facility under the supervision of your physician. Podophyllum is dominantly used for removal of various warts including venereal warts.


Podophyllum may come in multiple forms from tinctures to gels for external use only. If your physician decides that podophyllum could be beneficial for your treatment, be sure to get detailed information on the risks versus benefits. Consult with your compounding pharmacist for general questions. Podophyllum is not intended for home use, as the risk of toxicity is extremely high.


Podophyllum may bring on some unwanted side effects, some of which may present then dissipate quickly, though other side effects may linger or worsen. It is important to understand what side effects podophyllum could bring about, so talk to your physician about all possible side effects and be ready to act accordingly if you experience any. Side effects often differ from individual to individual. Common side effects seen with podophyllum are:

  • Burning
  • Itching
  • Skin Irritation
  • Possible Short-Term Pain (after using)

Many other side effects are possible. See your physician at once if you experience anything that is concerning.

Severe Side Effects:

While it is rare, extremely dangerous, or perhaps life-threatening side effects may occur with the use of podophyllum. Talk to your physician at your initial consultation to ensure that you are aware of the signs of a potentially severe side effects. If you experience any severe side effects listed below, or anything that feels severe at all, whether listed herein or not, get emergency medical treatment immediately.

Partial List of Severe Side Effects:

ANY Allergic Reaction Signs:

  • Tightness in Chest
  • Tight Throat
  • Difficulty Breathing
  • Rash and/or Hives
  • Itching
  • Red Skin (with or without fever)
  • Swollen Skin (with or without fever)
  • Blistering Skin (with or without fever)
  • Peeling Skin (with or without fever)
  • Wheezing
  • Trouble Talking
  • Unusual Hoarseness
  • Swelling (mouth, face, lips, tongue, throat)

Other Severe Side Effects:

  • Unexplained Bruising
  • Unexplained Bleeding
  • Extremely Bad Skin Irritation
  • Extremely Intense or Bad Pain where Treated
  • Extremely Intense or Bad Swelling and/or Bleeding where Treated
  • Temporary Burning and/or Burning (that does not dissipate)
  • Fever and/or Sore Throat and/or Chills
  • Abnormal Numbness, Tingling, or Burning Feeling

IMPORTANT WARNING: While there are some side effects that are listed as 'common' and also listed as 'severe', the difference between a side effect being common or severe could literally be the level of severity. With this in mind, if you experience anything that could have even the remote possibility of being a severe side effect, get emergency medical treatment immediately.


Podophyllum should never be used by anyone unless their primary care physician has deemed its use absolutely necessary.

Podophyllum is contraindicated for the following:

  • Patients Using Steroids
  • Diabetics
  • Pregnancy
  • Breastfeeding
  • Patients with Blood Circulation Problems
  • Patients with Bleeding Moles, Warts, Unusual Warts with Hair Growth, or Birthmarks

There may be many more possible contraindications for podophyllum; ask your physician to explain all possible contraindications.

  • "It is rare to find health professionals who are so willing to educate the patient on what they need to know."

    Clair C. | West Hollywood, CA